Leaves are opposite, 3-5 veined, deeply saw-toothed, up to 1 1/4 in. long. UCI Ecological Preserve, Irvine, CA. 3-31-10. © Joan Avise.

Dwarf Nettle

Urtica urens

A small, erect 6-18 in. high, short-lived, European annual weed; common in disturbed places, especially orchards and gardens. It germinates with early winter rains, growing in cool weather. It is traditionally used to stimulate hair growth, support the skin and soothe common itchiness (Wikipedia). Flowering: Jan. - April. More cultural information.

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Leaf stems 3/4 in. with leafy stipules. Leaves smooth except for stinging hairs containing formic acid (the poison in ant stings). Huntington Central Park, Huntington Beach, CA. 5-25-10. © Joan Avise.

Flowers are in clusters on axillary stems, pistillate and staminate in the same cluster; pistillate calyx deeply 4-parted, 2 long, 2 short, hairy margins; no petals.Caspers Wilderness Park, San Juan Capistrano, CA. 1-25-09. © Joan Avise.

San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary, Irvine, CA. 1-13-08. © Joan Avise.